Columbiana council votes to move forward with senior center project

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – The Columbiana City Council voted Wednesday to move forward with plans to renovate the old county health department building in to a new senior center.

In a special called meeting, the council passed a resolution committing $225,000 to the project, of which $25,000 is the required matching funds for an ADECA grant of $250,000.

The deadline to apply for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs grant is Aug. 1.

The resolution passed by a 5-1 vote, with Mayor Allan Lowe and council members Frieda Abrams, Stancil Handley, Jim Strickland and Ouida Mayfield voting for the resolution.

Councilman Tom Seale cited financial concerns and voted against it.

“I fully support the council’s decision to improve the senior citizen program and improve the facility,” Seale said after the meeting, “but the uncertainty of the current economy concerns me when committing such a large amount of money.”

Renovation of the county-owned building at the corner of Mildred and Milner Streets, across from City Hall, will cost an estimated $670,000.

The city has also applied for a $150,000 grant from the Shelby County Community Health Foundation.

The Shelby County Commission, through a resolution Monday night, agreed to provide a cash match for the ADECA grant of $10,000 and in-kind services valued at $45,500. The commission also agreed to lease the building valued at $551,000 to the city at no cost.

Terry Acuff of Huntsville-based Community Consultants is writing the grant for the city. During a public hearing June 30, Acuff said the city’s grant would be one of 20 to 25 considered, of which 10 to 15 will be awarded sometime in October.

If awarded the grant, Lowe said it would “be the latest of nearly two million dollars that I have returned to the city in the form of grants and appropriations since I have been in office.”

“This money is really just our tax dollars coming back to us for use locally, and I have fought hard to get each dollar,” he added.

Lowe said he would focus on ways to “improve the quality and funding of the senior activities center” while waiting to hear if the grants are approved.